Rough Draft No. 1 - Mother's Day

A couple of years ago, I'd gotten in the habit of going to Starbucks daily (sometimes even twice - What?!). After awhile, I decided to assuage some of my guilt by doing something productive with the time I spent there, so I challenged myself to write a poem each time I waited for my drink to be made. Sometimes I only ended up with a line or two, sometimes I came away with a nearly-finished piece. Either way, it was fulfilling and (as often happens when I commit to doing something creative daily) it made me increasingly observant and productive. 

After leaving my job in mid-September to become a stay-at-home mom, my Starbucks budget basically evaporated and with it, my prolific poem-generation. So a couple of months ago, as my younger son and I were waiting in the car for older brother to get out of school, it occurred to me that I could make waiting-for-school-to-get-out my new poem creation time. And I've decided to further challenge myself by posting these rough drafts here. I'm hopeful that this process will inspire me to keep writing and thinking and honing, and that it may inspire some of you to do whatever you do for creative expression. 

Just a reminder that these are ROUGH DRAFTS. They are not finished, polished pieces, though I hope that I will eventually post the final versions as I complete them. Also, I am creating all of these posts from my phone, so the formatting will almost certainly be awry. This drives the perfectionist in me CRAZY, but I've decided to stop letting her stand in the way of actually doing things. So without further ado...

Mother's Day

The sudden-sharp growl of thunder

shook the house 

and before it had pealed itself out

I was padding down the hall,

knowing one would cry out

(and he did)

and one would stumble from bed

(and he did).

 

I like this about motherhood:

the knowing.

Knowing when to ask about his day 

and expect an answer,

knowing when tantrum

is really just code for lonely,

gauging moods like wind.

 

I don't know much.

I don't know string theory,

or how to grow a tomato,

and I can't remember 

the quadratic equation,

but I do know

how this one likes his oatmeal

and how that one

likes to be alone only when he's angry.

 

And I like the knowing of them,

the knowing that,

on days like this —

  skies clouded pewter

  and rain pelting ground —

there is nothing they want more

than to burrow under wool blanket

with their soft jumble of plush friends

while I read 

and they breathe me

(contentedly)

in.

Ode To A Long Winter

As a lover of the cold and inclement, the grey and dreary, I am a happy, happy girl. This winter has had everything I love: big snowstorms, cloudy skies, day after day of must-stay-inside cold. Winters like this feed my soul. Of course, I am surrounded by people who feel very, very differently, people whose favorite greeting tends to be along the lines of, "Ugh! Can you believe how long/cold/endless this winter has been? Aren't you so excited for spring?!" At which point, I must decide between honesty ("Actually, I love cold, grey weather, so I'm a little depressed that spring is coming") or pretense ("Mmm-hmm...", sympathetic-seeming smile). I know that those of you who crave the warmth of the sun and the green of the spring, this plodding winter is near-torture. So I'd like to call your attention to some reasons that I love a good, long winter and maybe - just maybe - you will find yourself a way to enjoy its last freezing throes. 

COMMUNITY

It's easy to ensconce yourself inside and wait out the cold, but winter is a great opportunity to have some friends over for a cozy get-together. Calendars tend to be emptier than in the warmer months and many folks are desperate to break up their routine after so many months of weather-enforced seclusion. Easy, comforting meals like soups or crock-pot fare are welcome, and you don't have to dust your shelves too carefully, thanks to the forgiving darkness of winter. 

SOLITUDE

Although this may seem at odds with the community I just encouraged, solitude is its necessary partner. In warmer weather, there are outdoor activities aplenty, most of them involving other people. Calendars fill up and evening get-togethers often seep into the bedtime hours because of the extra light. This leaves all but the staunchest introverts with little to no downtime. Enter the dark of winter. Closing the drapes and settling in for the night at 5:00? Perfectly acceptable. Putting the kids to bed at 7:00? Utterly feasible. Spending an evening by the fire reading, writing, or being creative? Blissfully possible. Take advantage of these waning short days to spend some evenings getting reacquainted with yourself.

LITTLE PLEASURES

Crackling fire 

Growing list of finished books

Tea, tea, and more tea

Wool blankets

Card games, board games, dice games

Reading Harry Potter aloud 

Writing 

Sweaters and lounge pants 

Cutting paper and doing fun stuff with it

Watching the snow fall & the squirrels scamper

Turning off music/TV and savoring the sounds of the house: heat kicking in, dishwasher churning, wood floors settling 

 

Here's to enjoying the final 17 days of winter!

 

Creative Space

My creative space has been in flux for the last few years. After we refinished out basement in 2009, I commandeered one-third of it for my work area (thank you, honey!). Last fall, I couldn't stand being away from the fireplace and the windows any longer, so I moved a credenza into the dining area and worked from the dining table throughout the cold months. But when the weather turned warm (i.e., no fireplace needed) and the skies turned sunny (i.e., I had no desire to look outside), I began to realize the downfalls of that workspace: minimal storage, no display space, and an inconvenient round table that had to be cleared for dinner every meal.

As I considered other areas for a craft/work area, my friend Mary began to tackle her own long-planned craft room design. Hearing about her process and seeing photos of the well-organized results, I longed more than ever for a dedicated workspace of my own. When Mary and I visited our friend Rachel for an art "playdate" and I saw Rachel's creative, inviting craft room, I was officially in find-a-perfect-craft-area mode.

Harry encouraged me to list my priorities so we could settle on the right place. My top three desires were:

  1. proximity to a fireplace,
  2. view of the weather (so I could see the rain and snow), and
  3. sufficient storage space.

In a house as modestly-sized as ours, there weren't many ways to meet all three of these needs so I resigned myself to sacrificing one of them. Yet every time I thought I'd decided on a location, I shied away from it right when we got ready to take action. Then Harry – that brilliant and supportive husband o' mine – suggested, "Why don't we move out the piano and replace it with your desk?" Could it be? Could it really, truly happen?!? YES, it COULD happen! And it did. Over the Fourth of July week(end), we transformed the long wall in the living room from its irritating hodge-podgeness to a cohesive, inspiring work area.

Fireplace? Check. View of inclement weather? Check. Ample storage space? Check. I have used my area constantly since then, and have been more prolific and excited about creating since I started working there. I used only things I already had on hand, so it was completely and utterly free. And with the steel skies of autumn and winter fast approaching, I am gleeful as I anticipate crafting at my cozy desk next to the crackling fire while I watch the storms roll in.

Take a look at some other inspiring crafty spaces at Marcy Penner's blog here